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Monday, August 18, 2008


There are a wonderful array of random, interesting facts about the Italian region of Basilicata: the regional capital of Potenza is the highest in Italy, the region used to be called Lucania (with the people of Basilicata still often referred to as Lucanians), it is known for its traditional handicraft (especially using wood and ceramic mediums), it is one of few regions with shores on both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, etc. Though the region is not exactly economically well off, the people live by holding steadfast to tradition.

Lucanians have adapted to the fact that Basilicata is a mostly mountainous region—some in more creative ways than others. In the city of Matera, a traveler should be sure to experience the architectural phenomenon of the Sassi. The people of Matera sculpted the buildings of the Sassi from the side of the mountain on Murgia Plateau, on the edge of a ravine. Carved from the tufa, the homes are part-mountain, part-hand-built. They left no room to spare; the buildings were constructed in extremely close proximity to each other, often one right on top of the next. And the homes are not the only attractions of the Sassi. Because of the region’s passion for tradition and religion, it comes as no surprise that over 150 rock-cliff churches, partially carved right out of the mountain or into the sides of caves, exist along the ravine. As the site is so important to the history and culture of the region, UNESCO named the Sassi a world heritage site in 1993.

For more information on Basilicata (especially Matera), a great site to visit is

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